Missed Fasts

Do I have to “pay for” missed fasts?

As we have seen through the unanimity of the scholars, missed or broken fasts sit as a debt that we owe to Allah (s.w.t), just like missed prayers. Women who miss fasts due to pregnancy/breastfeeding cannot substitute making up the fasts with payments alone. In the contemporary work Al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu, Shaykh Wahbah al-Zuhaili has summarised for us the legal rulings of the four main schools of thought, he states:

“If they (either the breastfeeding or pregnant woman) break their fast,

  • Making up the fast is necessary without any payment – according to the Hanafi school
  • And (making up the fast is necessary) along with a payment if they fear for their child only – according to the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools
  • And (making up the fast is necessary) along with a payment for the breastfeeding woman only, not the pregnant woman – according to the Maliki school of thought.”[1]

I fall into one of the above categories which require payment of “fidya” along with making up my fasts. What do I need to pay?

  • The “payment” comprises paying one “mudd” or 0.51 litres of food per fast missed, according to the Shafi’i madhab.
  • One must pay whatever food is considered the main staple in the area where one lives.  This could be wheat, barley, rice or something else.3One must pay with the actual food and not the monetary value of the food, although some Shafi’i scholars have given the Hanafi opinion of allowing fidya to be paid in its monetary value.

Do I have a time limit for making up my fasts?

  • In the Hanafi madhab there are no time constraints given with regards to make-up fasts, although it is recommended to make them up as soon as one’s health allows.
  • According to the Shafi’i madhab it is not permissible for a person to delay their make-up fasts up until the next Ramadaan unless they have a valid excuse. If one delays making up the fast until another Ramadaan comes, then one must pay compensation along with making up the fast, this payment is cumulative if one delays further.[2]

Can I feed all the people on one day at a big feast?

  • The poor must be given possession of the food (e.g. a bag of wheat) and then they can do with it as they wish (e.g. eat it, sell it, give it away to someone else, give it back to you and ask you to cook it for them, etc). Therefore, it would not be sufficient to invite the people to a feast.  One would have to give them the actual staple food.

It is valid, however, to give everyone the food the same day.  It suffices to give multiple mudds to one person (so one could calculate everything one owes and give everything to one person).  However, it is not acceptable to divide a single mudd between multiple people.[3]

[1] Al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu, Volume 2,  pg. 646

[2] Reliance of the Traveller, Book I- Fasting, Section i1.33, pg. 117